By: Jasper Craven for VTDigger, August 13, 2018
When Gov. Phil Scott traveled to Washington on April 9 for a meeting at the Pentagon with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, the trip was not included on his public schedule, nor were there any indications his office had taken steps to publicize it.
However, the following Monday his participation in an Aerospace Innovation Forum in Montreal was noted on the calendar and followed up by an afternoon press release.
The subject of Scott’s Washington meeting was the Air Force’s plans to base F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport beginning in 2019 once the current squadron of F-16s are phased out. The governor has been a long-time supporter of the basing plan.
Scott flew to the nation’s capital explicitly for the meeting, traveling on a military plane provided by the Army National Guard. Those who accompanied him included Steven Cray, the Vermont Air National Guard’s adjutant general, and Frank Cioffi, a Chittenden County businessman who has long supported the basing and is part of the Air Force’s civic leaders program.
According to emails obtained through a public records request, the meeting was described as “positive and productive.” Scott reiterated his backing for the impending basing of the 18 F-35s and provided a “statewide perspective of the support for the VT Air Guard.”